Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis heard arguments Wednesday about whether to throw out the Florida Legislature’s redrawn congressional map, which critics say unfairly advantages Republicans, hurts minority voters and is unconstitutional. Under order by Judge Lewis, the legislature met in special session in early August and issued a revised congressional map on Aug. 11. But a coalition led by Common Cause and the Florida League of Women Voters says the new redistricting plan contains only minimal changes and still violates the state constitution. The nonprofit coalition charges that both the original and revised redistricting plans were drawn up by Republicans behind closed doors with no public input.
The plans are unconstitutional, the groups say, because they marginalize minority voters by concentrating them in only one congressional district in North Central Florida thereby benefiting Republicans in surrounding districts.
The coalition has presented Judge Lewis with its own recommendations to redraw nine congressional districts in northern and central Florida and create two new minority districts. The groups have asked Judge Lewis either to accept their plan or draw new districts himself, and they are calling for a special election to be held as soon as possible for the new congressional districts.